Fifteen Steps to Freedom

A J Street Haggadah

Throughout history, we, as a Jewish people, have faced persecution, violence and enslavement. However, for many in this generation, the events of October 7, were the most brutal and large-scale that our people have experienced in their own lifetime. The unfolding events of the Israel-Hamas war has required us to ask hard questions: How could this happen? What is the true cost of our freedom? How many lives must be lost in pursuit of that freedom? When is the cost too high? It seems impossible to celebrate our freedom in a time when our family and friends in Israel remain hostages, and when our Palestinian brothers and sisters are experiencing hunger and violence. Yet, the Passover Seder requires we retell our eternal Jewish story and commemorate our exodus from slavery to freedom.

In times of war and deep conflict, we must remind ourselves that freedom is not a given, but that there is a roadmap to lead us all there. After all, we were all once slaves in the land of Egypt. The rituals of the Passover Seder remind us to approach the world with empathy, compassion and concern. The experience of the Seder reminds us that while we who are sitting here tonight, are fortunate to be free, not everyone in the world has access to that same freedom.

J Street has compiled this haggadah to apply the themes and lessons of the Passover Seder to what it means, in 2024, to be pro-Israel, pro peace and pro-democracy. What questions do we need to ask about our power and responsibility? How might we be responsible for the oppression faced by others? What plagues us, and how can we not simply celebrate our own freedom, but use our freedom to help others become free? This haggadah supplement provides a framework for envisioning ways we can fight to ensure that Israel flourishes as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people and that Palestinians are able to achieve self-determination and independence in a state of their own – ensuring one day we will live in a world of peace, security and freedom for both peoples. It reminds us that as long as others are suffering, our own celebratory glasses of wine are never full to the brim.

Originally compiled in 2020, this haggadah includes pieces written by J Street friends and clergy. You can use the entire haggadah supplement, or pick out particular sections to add meaning to your Seder. As the Seder is one long question and answer session, we hope you’ll feel inspired to ask challenging questions — and to listen closely to each other’s answers.



Our haggadah combines original writings with content we’ve pulled from some of our favorite sources.

Emily Kaiman
Rabbi John Rosove
Rabbi Sharon Brous
Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg
Rabbi Michael Knopf, Rabbi Susan Leider and Liz Alperin Solms
Claire Davidson Miller
Rabbi David Teutsch
Rabbi Jessica Jacobs
Rabbi Toba Spitzer
Cantor Evan Kent
Rabbi Rachael Bregman
Rabbi Marc Israel
Yitzhak Rabin
Jews Against the Occupation
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Mahmoud Darwish
Ehud Manor
Rabbi Michael L. Feshbach
Shaina Wasserman
Jennifer Levine